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  1. Today
  2. "No," he said calmly. "I went to Thailand. For about twenty minutes or so, I keep trying to check these places out that I see on the internet. Sometimes I hit them, other times I can't. It's weird. Anyway, hi Kia." Devin knew Kia. She was a friend of his sisters so she'd been by the house on many occasions to coordinate cheers, work on homework, and look at fashion stuff online since they had to order it because Shelly was in the middle of nowhere! "So how does this work, is it like prison? We don't talk about our powers or what? Can I ask what you guys can do, or is there some code against it?"
  3. "There's a Thai place in Shelby?!" Kia blurted, suddenly interested. She leaned forward and gave the boy a wave and a smile. "I'm actually from Hawaii, but Mari thinks I'm ducky too, so it's fine."
  4. Yesterday
  5. "That's your set up?" Devin scoped the hardware and tried to hide his being impressed. He gave her a glance then a shrewd look to Sara as if to say 'watch your back'. A woman as cool and hot as Sean was fair game when the other honey wasn't around. "Christ, looks like it pays well to me a military lapdog. Besides, I keep to myself. I hate Montana, I doubly hate Shelly. My sister thinks all you one horse town natives are just ducky... I personally would rather be home in Cali." Despite his rather hostile jabs, he was offered a slice of pizza anyway, but he refused. "No thanks. I had Thai. At least, I think it was Thai... I didn't speak the language. Was good though. I'm kinda getting the hang of this. Sometimes my distances are off, but practice and all that..." He meandered bout, taking it all in. "So, D&D huh? I have a 4th level Sorcerer I've been playing in a play by post game... I could convert him if you guys were planning any games sometime." He gave off the air of a man not wanting to really like these guys, but the truth was he was happy to somewhere other then his house. He had been trying to practice with his abilities lately, but he was having a hard time focusing. Devin was the victim of his own self-imposed exile... he pushed everyone away for the last three years and now the realization had hit him in recent days that he had no one to really turn to when he had questions, or just someone to talk to. That didn't mean he trusted these guys, hell no. But they were better than nothing. "And for the record, Leggy VonCarpetshark, your girlfriend is a drug dealer, so you worry about her, and I'll worry about me." Oh yeah... this guy was great at making friends...
  6. Sean rolled her gorgeous, expressive eyes, but had the grace to look abashed... or at least feigned it very well. "I wouldn't use your own hormones against you just to get you to come to gaming night," she claimed, uncoiling herself from the couch and sashaying over to the table and pizza. Her lips quirked wryly as she gave him a glance in passing. "Though you might deserve worse for the crude ogling at Bunnee's. Devin, I honestly believe that having a talk at Bulwark was for the best, so you could make an informed decision in whatever you are going to do, now that you can... Jaunt about as you will." She pulled out paper plates for everyone from a stack on top of the fridge, along with paper towel, then unstacked the pizza boxes and opened them, inhaling the international aromas. She always had an interest in cooking and since her sense of taste and smell had increased - as had all her other senses - along with oversea trips with Sara, that interest had only heightened. "We mostly have a gaming night sometime on the weekends," Sean explained, "Roleplaying games, like D&D, Shadowrun, stuff like that, D&D currently. Other times, for those of us who like video games, we have LAN parties or play on the consoles." She nodded towards the tower unit holding several current and older gen consoles and the wall of video games behind it, then to her computer area. There was one set-up with three curved monitors almost forming a perfect semi-circle, centered on a rather elaborate, almost throne-like gaming chair, along with several other PCs set up down a long table. "I got a couple of sweet rigs. You won't find anything better in Montana - they'll run anything at Ultramax settings at 144 fps without trouble." The tall woman smirked self-deprecatingly. "Appearances to the contrary, we're all a bit nerdy here." She waved a hand towards the fridge, a full-sized one with a bottom freezer that had replaced the mini-fridge recently. "Feel free to help yourself to anything in the fridge, as long as there is at least one Dew or Jolt left, and you occasionally bring stock to fill it back up. Though..." Sean tapped the closest pizza box. "... bringing Greek 'Za, you're good for a few weeks." Sean took a piece from each pizza and then settled into the seat she regularly took when DM-ing and gave Devin a politely inquiring look. "You interested in RPGs or Video Games at all or have any other hobbies you're willing to share? Preferably ones that aren't felonies."
  7. It smelled like all gyms do, that stale scent of plastic mats, floor wax and sweat. The lights were dim and it was empty. Shelly High didn't have a gymnastic program, in fact, Devin would have been surprised if the backwater people here even knew how to spell the word. Back home in California he was on the team at his old high school. He made state champion twice and was well on his way to being able to skate through school into a scholarship, possibly the Olympics. He had it all planned out, until his dad got the promotion that brought them here... to Shelly, Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana. Needless to say he attempted his tumbling skills a few times upon his arrival, and if he had a dollar for every time the males of Shelly called it 'gay' or asked him about his tights, he could have bought a plane ticket out of that Hellhole. Their cheerleaders were barely talented, at least by his experienced standards and when he pitched the idea of helping with coaching their tumbling skills, he was rebuffed. It was explained that they didn't need good gymnastics since people came to see the game, not the cheerleaders. Cheer leading competitions were apparently not a big thing here in Montana. After that he gave up. He resigned himself that this place, Shell, was not a good fit and he was just going to either go with the flow until he could leave, or swallow a bullet. Thus was born Devin Jauntsen, anonymous high school student. He looked down the length of the gym, sizing up the distance, how many strides he'd need, and then he was gone. With barley breaking his stride he flew into a no handed cartwheel only to spiral into one from the opposite direction then he leapt backwards into a series of back handsprings. He finished off with a double flip that sent him soaring into the air. The sounds of someone applauding him echoed through the spacious gym before he landed. Marissa, or Mari, Devin's twin sister was slowly applauding his skills as she walked to the far end of the mats. She'd dyed her hair for Halloween and decided to keep it that way for awhile so today her black hair was pulled into a ponytail. Her school bag was slipped over one shoulder. Tight jeans complimented her frame and she wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the emblem of the high schools football team. Her makeup was light today, apparently, like her brother, she was in a hurry this morning. “Woo! Encore!” She shouted with an impressed smile. “Sorry,” He smiled back, wrapping a towel around his neck. His own school bag was just against the wall where he'd ended his floor show. “First show is free, you want more you have shove dollar bills in my thong, and since your my sister... that'd be hella weird.” “Yeah, I agree,” She replied, sarcasm dripping from her tone. “But only for the first ten minutes or so. Besides, then we could flee to the south and live in the mountains and stalk lonely hikers and rate their oral hygiene.” Dev laughed. Maybe it was that odd bond they claim twins have, or perhaps it was because they shared so much in common from sense of humor to taste in movies, but Mari made things bearable in his new life in Montana. She'd taken to it a lot easier than he had. She was popular, had friends, was on the cheer squad and participated in after school activities. Where Devin had done his absolute best to see nothing but the negative aspects about their move to Montana, Mari had embraced the change in scenery and people and made the most of it. These days, she was his only friend. “What's up?” He finally asked. “Mom's offering a ride home,” she thumbed towards the door. “Didn't think you wanted to walk home in the snow, soooo...” He patted his shoulders and the back of his neck. His workouts barely made him sweat anymore, which caused him to just push himself harder. He sighed at the thought of spending time in a car with his mother. She always used the time for nagging him about his attitude, or prod him about why he didn't have any friends or, his favorite, ask him if he was on drugs and grill him about all the things she read on the internet about kids his age loved 'the pot'. His expression fell from jovial to sour. “Nah,” he said softly. Mari barely heard him. “I'm good. You two go on ahead. I still have do my core.” She glared for a moment, reading her twin like an open book. “I call bull, but que'eves. You can't avoid mom and dad forever, Dev. You certainly can't hate them forever, either.” He threw his towel towards his bag as he was approaching it. “Can and I will.” “Hate them or avoid them?” Mari asked, as irritation with her brother slowly crept into her tone. “Take your pick.” She turned and walked away. Fighting with her sibling was an art form for the both of them so she decided she was going to cut her losses today and try and enjoy her evening with friends instead of dealing with her brother's angsty B.S.. “You wanna be pissed, be pissed, but seriously, quit blaming mom and dad for doing what they had to do for the sake of,” she spun on a dime and turned to face he brother. The gym was empty. Devin, his bag, it was just gone. He was as nowhere in sight. “...the family...” She looked around, confused how he managed to exit the gym without making any noise, she'd have heard the doors get pushed open, and even then, he could have gone that far that fast, not in the span of a single sentence. Could he? “Devin,” she called out but her voice just echoed in the open gym. “Devin?!” The gang was all assembled for... whatever the gang assembled for. It was Devin's first real invite into their secret clubhouse, otherwise known as it's more ominous comic book title: Sean's Barn. Yeah, so it wasn't exactly Platinum Membership into the Legion of Doom material, but it was certainly quite the hook up. “You did invite him, right?” Lilly asked Sean while she grabbed something to drink from the fridge. Sean was relaxing on the couch but sat up to reply. “Yeah, I told him he was welcome to come by.” The heat suddenly spiked and then Devin was there, carrying three huge flat, but thick boxes. “And here I am,” he said calmly. Like that guest who didn't feel like he belonged. “Brought pizza.” “You didn't have to do that, but thank you.” Sean tilted her head, not recognizing the boxes as being local. “We could have called for delivery.” “From Greece?” Devin added as he set them on the table. “You're kidding,” Abel asked, already on his way toward the table to sample actual Greek pizza. Sean smiled warmly at Devin. “Thanks for coming by.” “Didn't really think I had a choice.” He retorted. “If I had said no you'd have just batted your eyelashes and made me do it anyway, right? Nice digs, so what do you guys do here?"
  8. Personal Information Real Name: Devin Jauntsen Nicknames: Jaunt Nature: Caregiver Concept: Student/Wise Crackin' Hero Marital Status: Single Known Relatives: Jason Jauntsen (Father), Kathleen Jauntsen (Mother), Marissa Junatsen (Twin Sister) Date of Birth: February 9, 2000 Nationality: American Occupation: Junior at Shelly High School Allegiance(s): His Father and himself Physical Traits Gender: Male Ethnic Background: Caucasian Age: 17 Height: 5'11" Weight:170lbs. Eyes: Blue Hair: Sandy Brown Handedness: Left Appearance: Jaunt is a handsome young man with sandy brown hair cut short, blue eyes and winning smile. He's tall and slender, with an incredibly toned physique that marks him as a natural gymnast. Abilities/Special Skills: Devin, with some effort, has concealed his Olympic class gymnast skills and athletic ability, mostly because he knows he's different and if people ever saw what he was truly capable of, he'd not be allowed to compete anymore, or worse, he'd draw too much attention from the wrong kind of people. Aside from his athletic ability, Devin is an incredible artist, perhaps because his perception is off the charts. He draw, with almost perfect accuracy, anything he's seen with a reasonable time frame. Jaunt I also an adept martial artist. He's not had any formal training in any traditional martial arts, but he has developed a fighting style centered around his ability to disappear and reappear instantly, seemingly striking his opponents from all sides at once. Jaunt posses the quantum ability to teleport anywhere in the world. His body moves through an unknown dimension, pulled through to his destination, much like the theory of how wormholes operate. The actual dimension he passes through, whether scientifically explainable or just some quantum fluke, is unknown. What Devin does know is that he is somehow linked with this dimension as long periods of time without passing through it cause him to become fatigued and weakened. It's for this reason that he often making short 'jaunts' in order to 'keep his buzz going'. Personality: Devin's a d-bag. He's an epic level smart ass, doesn't take anything seriously, and posses a witty retort for just about everything, well, what passes for his wit, anyway. He's usually late for everything, comes up with weak excuses and generally doesn't seem to care about anything unless he has something to gain from it. Background: Devin moved to Shelby about three years ago with his family and he's been hating it every moment since his arrival. His father was a park ranger in Central California until the opportunity or a promotion came along and before he knew it they were on their way to the Middle-of-Nowhere Montana. Back home Cali Devin enjoyed the nice weather, had friends, and best of all culture! He was also part of the gymnastics team. Shelby is something right out of a nightmare for him. It's a 'one horse town' in the middle of nowhere where the ones opportunity to absorb culture is seriously diminished. With a population of only 3,300, he's left to wonder how many of the people in this town are actually their own distant relatives. What's worse, there's no gymnastics team! Needless to say he hates it. His mother, Kathleen, works for Shelby High School. Although she has a teaching degree, she doesn't teach officially but works with the schools administration instead. She often substitutes when necessary. As one may guess seeing his mother in the classroom irritates Devin to no end, since she doesn't stop being 'mom' while at school, a fact that never ceases to embarrass Devin on endless occasions. Jason Jauntsen works for the State of Montana's Fish and Wildlife Dept., much to Devin's disgust, since he blames his dad for all of his life's problems. They don't get along and Devin has been carrying a three year chip on his shoulder. Despite his father's best attempts to reconnect with his son, the harder he tries, the farther Devin pushes him away. Marissa, Devin's twin sister, on the other hand has taken to Shelby like duck to water. She's approachable, fun, popular and well on her way to finding some guy, falling love, and becoming a lifer in Shelby. While Devin and his sister get along well, at school they don't associate much, mostly because her brother is always hitting on her friends. Birth Name: Devin Jauntsen (Pronounced “Yawn-sen”) Alias: ‘Jaunt’ Nature: Caregiver Eruption: Unknown Allegiance: None Physical: Strength (Well-Built) 4, Dexterity (Nimble) 4, Stamina (Enduring) 4 Athletics (Gymnastics) 5, Brawl 4, Endurance 3, Might 5, Resistance 3, Stealth 5 Social: Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 3 Command 3, Streetwise 1 Mental: Perception (Observant) 5, Intelligence 3, Wits 3 Academics 2, Arts 5, Awareness 5, Computers 2, Rapport 1 Backgrounds: Attunement 5, Node 2, Resources X (part-time job, less than $2,500 if liquidated) Mega-Attributes: Mega-Strength 1, Mega-Dexterity 1, Mega-Perception 1 Enhancements: Strength (Lifter), Dexterity (Physical Prodigy), Perception (Blind Fighting) Powers: ESP 1, Teleport 1 Extras: None Merits: Charming 1 Flaws: Addiction (Power Use) 2 Willpower: 7 Quantum: 5 Quantum Pool: 30 Taint: 1 Aberrations: None Health Levels: Standard Bonus Points: 1 (+1 Specialty) 1 (Charming Merit) 1 (Natural Leader Merit) 6 (+3 Abilities, +3 Command) 6 (+3 Willpower) (1+1+1)+(6+8)=17-2=15 Nova Points: 3 (Teleport, Level 2 Power, Q-min 2) 3 (ESP, Level 2 Power, Q-min 3) 3 (Mega-Perception) 3 (Mega-Strength) 3 (Mega-Dexterity) 3 (+9 Attributes, +2 Strength, +1 Dexterity, +1 Stamina, +1 Perception, +2 Charisma, +1 Manipulation, +1 Appearance) 2 (+12 Abilities, +2 Brawl, +2 Might, +2 Athletics, +2 Stealth, +2 Awareness, +2 Arts) (3+3+3+3+3)+(2+1+2)=15+5=20 I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: Jaunt's energetic nature, some would think, would be quite a boon. Sure, it has its good days, but the fact remains that Jaunt rarely, if ever, sleeps. He's always somewhere, at some time, challenging the sun to stay up for just a while longer on a sunny beach, keeping the party alive awhile longer under the moonlight. He does this simply by challenging the time zones and jaunting across vast distances in a matter of moments. This formulates in a manner of ADD Syndrome. Simply put, he has trouble focusing on things for extended periods of time. Forgetting his wallet, remembering an appointment, even putting away the groceries can sometimes be difficult for him. It's not his memory that's the issue, he can remember things just fine. It's his attention span that's the problem. For example, Jaunt sets his wallet on the end table, goes and gets a glass of water and suddenly decides that he wants Cantonese for dinner, without another thought he's simply on his way to China, his glass of water falling to the floor and the wallet containing the money he would use to purchase said meal is still sitting on his end table. This happens more than he'd like to admit. "You're Sweet When You Want To Be." (Natural Leader & Charming Merits): Jaunt's an obnoxious little d-bag, no one would argue that point. It's strange though, that on some odd occasions he'll let down the walls guarding his feelings and allow others to see a different side of him: a side that actually cares. Sometimes it's a phrase, a quote, or a story that he tells that might inspire or elevate one's mood. Sometimes, the kid just knows what to say, and often times it's on accident. All in all, he's just quite charming on rare occasions and this can manifest in anyway the GM determines.
  9. Monday Story Seed - Absolute Zero: A Visit to Venus Wednesday Nuts & Bolts - RPG Blog Carnival - Dungeon of Mega Friday Gods of the Fall - Gods of the [blank] part 5 - Gods of Modern Myth View the full article
  10. Last week
  11. Space was crowded. Lots and lots of junk fill the low and mid orbital bands. But even with all of the satellites and garbage up there, there was still a lot of room and Sara could always find a place away from the eyes she didn't want to see her. She floated, still, her body soaking up the energy of the distant sun. below her the earth turned and sang to her ************ The soft tones of the guitar filled the room with a sweet ambient noise, not too loud so that Sean and the boys couldn't hear themselves, but loud enough that it made a peaceful backdrop while they worked. It was Thursday morning about 3:30 am. They had finished training hours ago, Lilly had taken off right after to spend time with Sandy, Talena wasn't allowed to stay out past 9:00pm on week nights so Alec was here with Abel and Sean working on projects. Kia was there as well she had been sort of helping the brain trust but was curled up in the corner on a borrowed fighting mat covered with Abel's coat now. Sara didn't understand why she slept so much or even if she really did sleep. Lord know she didn't herself, there was too much pain in the world, and she couldn't keep it out when she slept. Her thoughts had drifted, Sara looked up and right into Abel's concerned eyes. Shit, she thought silently, she started thinking about homework and the running argument she had been having with her dad about Sean which made her think of other things concerning Sean... Abel had felt the shift in the mental tenor of the room, it was late and outside a a couple of security troops at the entrance it was just him and his friends. It was easy from practice to tune them out of his thoughts and even better now that they had learned how to make their own shields. All except Sara. Even after spending several day just the two of them she still couldn't erect a mental block that could keep a fly out much less him. So he had done his best to not read her mind and after years and years of practice it wasn't hard. Usually. But tonight it was just them and that meant that the one set of thoughts that intruded into his was hers. It wasn't so bad while she was playing her thoughts were about the music in a way it was like listening to the stuff she was playing on an incredibly intimate level he felt where it was coming from as well as heard the actual sound. But then her mind went dark and she thought of things that bothered her tragedies and sadness and anger. Abel had looked up and watched her from across the room, he almost did what he tried so hard not to he almost really read her mind. Then Sara had looked up and she started juggling her thoughts and then she thought about Sean and the two of them together. Abel coughed and looked back at the computer screen at what Sean was doing there, sending a thought to the girl trying to keep him out, <So do you want to actually talk?> He looked back at her over Sean's shoulder, his eyes communicating the same concern his mental voice did, not the cold and clinical voice he used while lecturing. If there was going to be some movement between the two of them, beyond her immense dislike of his power and his hiding it, well he could only apologize so much, and when her thoughts were so powerful he couldn't help but hear them over those of everyone else, well they'd both have to come to terms with that. Still, it was going to be up to her to open up to him, he still thought of himself as her friend, but she had to decide Abel could actually be trusted. Sara quickly looked away from meeting Abel's eyes, as if that would keep him out. <I can't, it's late I have a test tomorrow.> Her thoughts were jumbled, Abel was picking up a sense of urgency as well as anger but not at him. For her part Sara knew that she couldn't keep him out and she needed to talk to someone about this but not tonight, not now, there wasn't time. <Look,Um I have to head out I have a test tomorrow if you want to talk, maybe we could do that just the two of us. I do have some things I need to talk to someone about. Someone who can keep a secret> <Alright, we can talk whenever you're ready. I'll be available. It'd do me some good to get out and get some flying in, and I know you enjoy it too.> The concern was still there but she could get the sense that he was smiling that friendly genuine smile. He avoided the cliche of saying she could trust him, but it was implied nonetheless. Few in the group had the experience keeping secrets that Abel did, even from himself he'd learned. Sara stopped playing and stood setting the instrument in its battered case, Sean looked back at her girlfriend. “I'm think I'm gonna head on home. I have an algebra test tomorrow, I mean today.” She walked over to Sean as the statuesque goddess stood, “No reason for you to stop working babe. I'll see you at school.” Sean smiled and they kissed. “Goodnight baby.” Sara said her good byes to the boys and shouldering the guitar headed out of the building. Sean watched her go noting the tenseness, but not wanting to push things she sat back down. Abel watched his two friends say their good byes and frowned, Sara's was lying. ************ Men fell some pierced by unseen projectiles, some slammed by rocks, or picked up and flung like rag dolls by savage whirlwinds, all the while they ran yelling, cursing and firing their Kalashnikov's at targets they couldn't see. They saw the movement out of the corner of their eyes, heard the sounds of men moving all around them but they never saw anyone, never heard any gunfire, never had a chance. No one who saw anything survived. The captives, all young girls, aged eight to thirteen, seventy eight of them total, had covered themselves in their communal cells crouched together praying they didn't catch a stray bullet or worse fall into the hands of someone worse than the Boko Haram slavers who currently had them now. None of those girls saw anything clearly when the doors to their cages were ripped off, they saw nothing when they went outside the bodies were gone. There was no blood on the ground no evidence that anyone but them had ever been there. The girls found food and waited not leaving because they didn't know really where they were. A few hours later the aid arrived, the call that had summoned them had come from a phone in Israel. All the caller had said, an unidentified woman speaking English, was where to find the girls. The authorities never found the slavers. It was as if the earth had swallowed them up. ************** Nigeria, Belgium, Chechnya, Philippines, India, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya, and Somalia from mid November into December eleven different criminal or terrorist organizations suffered extreme actions against them. In Afghanistan, 21 girls and their teacher were saved from Taliban when those threatening them were “taken by the wind” as one child put it. In Libya a terrorist taring camp was obliterated by a massive explosion which left no evidence whatsoever only sand turned to glass. In each case the perpetrators were either killed or simply vanished. Official news reports were either incredible vague or non-existent. Various national intelligence agencies were perplexed and on alert looking for clues. *************** Sara and Sean had taken to skipping school most days after lunch unless they had tests, no one seemed to care or if they did they didn't say anything. They usually took off and went shopping or some other activity that was just the two of them before going to their mandatory Training and finally the Brain Trust' lab. This Friday was different. Sara had told Sean that she had some errands to run for her dad and that she would meet up with Sean for Training later that evening. Once away from school Sara sent a thought to Abel through the Private link they shared. <Hey, I'm going to be waiting at the Town Pump if you really want to talk. I could use a friendly ear.> Abel who had gotten the message smiled. <I'll be there.> He could cut class, and did, since this was obviously important. He soon arrived at the meeting place and smiled, seeing her waiting there. He imagined it was fairly surprising that he had actually cut class to be there, but he did offer to help however he could. <So, do you want to talk here, or somewhere else?> Sara popped the last Funyun into her mouth and chewed and swallowed then washed it down with a long drink from her diet Dr Pepper which killed that. She tossed the bag and plastic bottle into the trash and climbed into Abel's jeep. She waited until she was belted in before saying anything and when she did she spoke instead of using telepathy. "It's not safe to fly around here unless you can go really fast so if you want to fly need to find someplace a bit more remote where the planes and choppers from the base don't fly. If you don't want to fly anywhere is cool but we probably should go where we won't be seen." "We'll be seen no matter where we go Sara, I can imagine they have more than one satellite focused on this whole area now, simply to keep tabs on things. If nothing else, we can head to the northwest, there's really nothing out there besides animals and the plains." He set out to drive that way, even as he waited, it was nothing to turn around. She gave him that look that spoke volumes. Sometimes it was hard to remember how much of a geek Abel had been, and how obtuse he could be. "I meant by any kids from school or people who really know us. Probably not a good idea to have the dyke who is dating the bombshell, seen out and about with a pretty boy. North is fine. And no they actually don't have a bunch of satellite focused on us. I know the paths and flight time pretty well now and while we do get surveillance they don't have enough sats to dedicate one too watching us. Anyway i want to keep this between us. And I mean only us." The look she gave him was a very serious one and the thoughts and mood he was reading were thoughts of worry and fear coupled with anxiety "Anything either of us says is only going to be between us Sara, you can count on that." He drove on, wondering exactly what had her so anxious. He'd soon know, so he found them a good spot, well away from the town, and everything else to be honest. "I can't feel anyone else around aside from us, so we ought to be fine out here." He pulled off the road, and took his keys, placing them in the zipper pocket on his pants. "So what brings us both out here to the middle of nowhere?" Sara got out of the jeep and walked around to the front, Abel followed her they both leaned against the vehicle, Sara actually jumping up onto the bumper and sitting on the hood. She stared off across the plain toward the distant mountains silently, nervously rubbing her hands. Then she spoke, "I've been killing people." "What?" Of course, surprise was his first response, but he didn't delve into her mind. She needed to speak these words, to tell someone what was going on. "Why would you do that Sara?" "It started after Halloween," her voice was low, she didn't look at him, "You know I fly a lot, I get angry a lot and flying seems to calm me like smoking a joint used to do." Her hands still fidgeted, he could feel how badly she wanted a cigarette. "And when I say fly I'm not talking about toddling around down, here I mean I fly, really fly. I'm the genuine Rocketgurl." She hopped off the jeep and paced back and forth a couple of times before stopping and facing him. "I float up there free of everything. No noise, no air, just me alone the earth stretched out below me turning. Sometimes I would feel like the earth was speaking to me. It's the most incredible feeling in the world, Abel!" Her voice was full of excitement and awe, so was he mind. "It sounds very peaceful, and Isolating." He speared her with his own steel grey gaze. He had no idea her flight capabilities were so superior to his, though he did know she was much faster. "That doesn't answer the question of why you kill people Sara." She let out a little chuckle, "Yeah it does. It will. Some nights when you guys are glued to your screens in the lab I would go and fly ou tthere. Sean knows that I do it I've even taken her up for a few minutes...” Her thoughts drift off to her lover, the mental images that come into Abels mind can't help but be...distracting even as they are calming for the emotional girl before him. “Then one night while I was floating up there alone I... I just grew so melancholy I watched the world turning and I felt so much pain and anger. The next thing I knew I was rocketing through the sky faster than I had ever flown before I knew where I was going but had no idea where that was. Then I was there. Some island, I found out it was in the Philippines later, I was too late. Some crazy Islamist or whatever it doesn't matter, had kidnapped a bunch of people and they had just killed them. Hacked their heads off. The earth was crying I felt it, felt it's pain. Felt it demanding justice. So I killed them. I unleashed all that anger. It was so easy. and when it was done all I felt was relief that the earth had stopped crying. But it didn't stay quiet long. It happened again. Then again and again. Some times I got there in time some times I didn't. I have saved so many lives but I have taken so many as well. And i don't feel bad about that I'm happy when I save someone but i don't care about the ones I killed they deserve it. But i don't know if I'm crazy or if the earth is really talking to me. If it isn't how do I find these people? How do I know when I'm needed?" He looked at her, his eyes narrowing slightly. "So you're actually moonlighting as a real Life Avenger. I'd say that's pretty cool in its own right, though the fact you feel good at killing them does give me cause for concern. Even my own Telepathy has limits in terms or range, at least for now, so I can't accurately say how you can perceive these "Needs" for you to be someplace. Perhaps it's the isolation from low orbit and interaction with the Quantum field you possess and the Earth synching up. It could even be like Sean's visions, where he sees something about to happen, and we have time to avert it, or not, like the mushroom clouds over the lake." "Don't get me wrong, I am concerned here, and I'd never ask this in other situations, but will you show me everything. Let me live your memories through your senses. And if possible I'll see if I hear the earth as well." He didn't need to ask he could certainly do it without permission, but she wanted help, for someone to understand, and that would be made all the easier by her willingly allowing him in, to do this. She looked long at her friend of all the Irregulars, she had known Abel the longest, even if they hadn't really been friends or anything, but it was so hard for her to trust. After a moment she nodded. Sara opened her mind and Abel saw a troubled young girl, haunted and scarred by her mothers abandonment, her fathers indifference, and her communities misunderstanding of who she was. He saw the joy of finding love for the first time and the pain when that lover abandoned her like her mother had. Found himself in her memories of falling in love with Sean and how she holds back from revealing that to her for fear of that abandonment. And then he was with her in space. The memory of the earth speaking the emotion, the urgency. Her memories of battle all very one sided the men... terrorist, criminals she ruthlessly destroys either as punishment for what they were about to do, or as vengeance for what they had done. Those she saves she never reveals herself to but she watches to make sure they are rescued. She feels no remorse, which worries him somewhat, and while he can live her memories of what she calls the earth speaking to her he can't feel it or hear it himself. He has never been so deep into a persons mind. Never had one opened to him bearing all of the secrets a person holds, even things they don't know themselves. It is emotionally overwhemling yet he takes it instride revealing nothing of the emotions he himself is feeling now. "Well at least you're not leaving a trail of bodies for them to find. That's something at least." He watched her fight and save the people, the feeling of roiling emotion preceding each incident, all the killings. "The problem with this sort of thing is it sets so many dangerous precedents, violates the rule of law, and so many other social conventions. This is a can of worms that so far we've largely avoided by hiding our abilities, but soon this will get out, someone will catch you on video, and then we'll have to answer for it." He picked up a stone and tossed it up and down, only it didn't ever touch his hand, turning end over end in the air suspended as it were and touching only the air and force of his mind. "What happens when you ignore it? Have you even tried ignoring these "Feelings?" I can't hear the voice as you do, though I do feel something. Whether it's the world, or simply spikes in humanity's overall mental imprint, well I just don't know. The whole field of science is brand new effectively. Sara watched the stone moving up and down above Abel's hand, we are all so different now, she thought, from each other as much as from the rest of the world. Abel picked the thought out even though it wasn't directed at him, then Sara spoke again out loud. "I don't regret doing any of it, not even killing those men and except in a couple of cases they were all men," She scowled, "I don't enjoy it, the killing, i don't feel anything. But those assholes were going to kill innocent people mostly women and children, or civilians, people who had never done anything to them, who were defenseless. To answer your question, yes I have had to ignore it several time. And I hate it when I do. I think this is what I am supposed to be doing. Why have this power, why know all this stuff is going to happen if I am not going to do anything about it. It makes me angry. If we weren't in hiding If the world knew what i had done maybe these animals,” she pauses, Abel can feel her sudden anger, “no they aren't animals that's unfair to animals, these savage filth, would think twice before committing the atrocities they were thinking of doing." She picks up a fist sized rock and Able watches in amazement as the rock flows and shifts into the perfect likeness of Sean's face and head. "What is she going to think about all of this, about me being some kind of ... I don't even know what to call myself. Heh, maybe what you said, Maybe I am an Avenger." Abel knows that when she says that she is thinking more in biblical terms than about the comics characters. "She'd probably caution you, as I do, about getting caught doing this, at least for now, As it violates so many laws and treaties. Granted, none of them were made with beings like us in mind, and much will likely be amended once this all comes out.” Abel gives a thoughtful sigh “ I won't tell you to stop, but I want you to remember something. You touch more lives than those you save, and those you slay. All of them have others in their lives, and you touch their lives as well." Another trio of rocks joined the first, rotating seemingly at random even as they moved in a juggler's circle. "You have to decide how far you wish to go, what you wish to risk. I do believe Sean will accept that you do this, when you decide to share this with her. You are her first Girlfriend after all. I don't need my powers to know how much Sean likes you, how much she did before you all became enhanced. I doubt this will change that, though i can imagine she'll be concerned too. Thing is, is fighting all you want to use your powers for? Look at what you just did with that rock. You have a gift for the arts, though your music is what I remember best about you from before. I can do so many things, but I'd honestly rather work on my research than fight, but I know that one day the aliens will return, so I have to be ready to fight. So I train, with all of you, and on my own, to master the abilities I have too." Sara slips the Sean rock into her coat pocket. and steps away from Abel and his jeep. "Remember you promised this is between you and me. Thanks for listening." Bending the air around her to mask the disturbance of her passing Sara rockets into the sky moving so fast Abel can barely track her with his eye. He nodded. <Of course Sara, as I said, when you decide to share this with Sean, and everyone else.> Much as he wanted to fly. Sara had left him, removing his real reason for being here. Still he took a little time to actually fly around, though his was more for fun and what maneuvers he could manage, as opposed to sheer speed like hers. ************ Sara floated space letting the sun warm her, charge her with it's life giving rays, the world turning below her. She thought about all that Abel had said. One thing in particular about if this was all she wanted to do. It was apart of her now...the anger, the need for justice and vengeance. There was just too much injustice in the world and the world knew it but there were other things as well. *********** The rains had been unending it seemed and now the village was threatened with the rising waters of the nearby rivers. Already water had filled the muddied streets so that villagers had to wade from house to house many had fled. The State had given no aid no relief from the disaster which would destroy so many home and lives when the rivers overflowed. Those that remained had nowhere to go. Cheng herd the bleating of goats. Her heard no rain on the tin roof he slid from the bed where his wife and three young children slept on. He had expected to stepintot water but the floor was dry. He moved in the darkness to the door of the hovel he called home and opening it looked outside. The street was full of goats! The water was gone and even the mud was dry. He rushed out and pushing through the animals looking at all of the dirt streets which had been knee deep in water when he had gone to bed and now stood dry as if the flood had never come. In a short time he came to the end of the village close to where the river flowed. Other men had woken and joined him. And all looked on and many fell to their knees and prayed to the gods of their ancestors. Cheng was dumbfounded, but he did not stop, instead he continued on to the very banks of the roaring river. But he did not walk down the slop where the banks were usually, no now to reach the river it was up that he had to climb. The river raged swollen from the rainfall but on both sides of the river the banks which and run down from the villages now rose high like dikes funneling the deep flowing water away from the fields and villages. The gods had saved them. ************ Sean looked up when Sara arrived late she had been worried especially when Sara hadn't responded to her mental calls. Sara was smiling no she was beaming everyone paused in what they were doing It was a hand to hand combat class and Marine SSgt Merkes was not happy at being interrupted nor at having his students show up late. He was about to start chewing the blonde a new one but before he could get started Sara had walked right past him to Sean and swept her into a very tight embrace and a passionate kiss more suitable to a bedroom than a gym. Everyone started, Kia grinned, Able was reading strong emotions. The kiss end and a bit breathless and very much aroused Sean looked at Sara with a question in her eyes. Sara smiled at the woman in her arms and said “I love you, Sean Cassidy!”
  12. I'm totally going to cheat here ... Superhero comics are often called modern mythology. The stories are larger than life, the protagonists and antagonists resound with us on deep fundamental layers, and a lot of the best stories can be simplified down to essential plot points that are not dissimilar to those stories from antiquity. But there's a difference in playing Cypher System Superheroes and a Gods of Modern Myth game. Firstly, superheroes tend toward varying origin stories. There are often heavily co-joined themes (hello rich white guys with a very specific skill set, last aliens of their species just trying to make a life, and mutants/metahumans), but if you look at the big two you will see a diverse mix of origins within their upper tier of characters. Characters in a Gods of Modern Myth game are going to share a common origin: They. Are. Gods. Which brings me to ... Secondly, We rarely spend any time with comic book superheroes when they don't have powers/skills. Sure after 70-odd years you get a Batman: Year One type story, but generally origins are quick and we move on to the superpowered "good parts". Not so with Gods of Modern Myth. These characters need to gestate and realize their powers. Depending on the players and GMs they may be little more than heroic but otherwise average people for 4 to 8 sessions before they finally gain their "super powers" (e.g. power/divine shifts). This has the advantage of both getting to know characters before they become larger than life heroes/gods, but also to help establish that the opposition is greater than the average person; in other words it lets the GM set the scale of the game. Thirdly, the scope of a Gods of Modern Myth game should be broader than the average superhero comic. Gods of Modern Myth should be tackling citywide problems from the start and by tier 3 they should probably be saving the world Justice League style, or even the whole cosmos like the Guardians of the Galaxy. The scale, as I mentioned before, should be bigger, but so too should the scope. If your characters aren't shaking the pillars of the universe at tier 6 what are they going to be doing, and how could it possibly match up? So yeah, Gods of the Fall reinterpreted as superheroic modern myth. It's probably not for everyone, but maybe it should be. 😄😄😄 View the full article
  13. Today we go a little further back. The Beast Within Revised dates back to December 2000, but Onyx Path recently recreated it for ebook formats. This story is Gherbod Fleming’s The Inquiry. [From the interview of Archon Theo Bell, Clan Brujah, on 14 November 1999, conducted by Justicar Mme. Guil, Clan Toreador.] MG: And so, in your estimation, Archon Bell, at the point at which you lured Prince Vitel to the warehouse, he remained unaware of your harmful intent toward him? TB: Do you think he’d have got in that car if he’d thought I was gonna blow his [expletive deleted] head off? MG: I’m interested in your opinion, Archon. [pause; rattling of cellophane] I’d prefer that you didn’t smoke in here. TB: [barely audible muttering.] MG: Excuse me, Archon? TB: Yes. In my estimation, he remained unaware. Hell, we spent weeks briefing him and the others, telling them that the Sabbat could bust through any night. Which was true. And the scenario we constructed for Vitel was credible. When they did attack a week later, they came along the same routes I told him they were using that night. MG: But you knew he was in communication with the enemy. Shouldn’t he have known that the assault was not happening that night? TB: From everything that Pieterzoon and Colchester had scraped together, we thought his communication with the Sabbat was sporadic. We hoped he didn’t know the exact details of whatever attack was coming. MG: You “thought” his communications were sporadic. You “hoped” he didn’t know? TB: Look. That whole operation in Baltimore was built on hope and speculation. If anybody had bothered to tell us that there was a plan underway to take New York, it would’ve helped. As it was, I say we were damn lucky that the plan Pieterzoon and I came up with dovetailed with what was already going down in New York. MG: I believe had your plan not coincided with our wishes, Lucinde would have guided you in a more convenient direction. As it was, your actions bore out our predictions to a signifcant degree, so you were left to operate independently. But we were, I believe, discussing Marcus Vitel. TB: Right. And you’re interested in my lowly opinion. Well, it seemed most likely to me that the Sabbat high command wasn’t going to keep Vitel completely informed. If your spy gets bagged and spills his guts, you’re screwed. MG: You seem to accept this theoretical Sabbat policy of parceling information on a need-to-know basis more whole-heartedly than our own similar practice — at least as far as you are concerned. Would not our New York gambit have been threatened had a combatant such as yourself been aware of every detail and captured? TB: Different situation, lady. MG: That would be “Madame,” or “Justicar,” thank you. TB: Hmph. MG: Let us skip ahead, Archon. Once you were in the warehouse — you and your driver, the prince and his retainer—your frst interaction there with Vitel was… TB: I shot him in the face. MG: Indeed. Before or after extracting a confession? TB: This wasn’t no interrogation. It was a hit. We already knew what we needed to know. We were there to take him out of the picture, not ask questions. MG: And Mr. Pieterzoon concurred with your assessment? TB: Yeah. MG: And Lucinde? TB: Couldn’t tell you for sure. But since you’re so interested in my opinion, I assumed Pieterzoon was keeping her informed. I don’t think she would’ve had it any other way. Look. We were trying to hold Baltimore till the last second and pull off a screened withdrawal to another city. If you folks are unhappy about how we did it, then just have Pascek give me my pink slip, and I’ll be on my way. MG: I am merely attempting to ascertain the facts. TB: Bullshit. We were cut loose, and I bet that for every justicar who hoped we’d pull it off, there was another hoping we’d fall on our ass. And now that we did pull it off, you’re gonna second guess me to death because you, or somebody, can’t stand for the credit to go to Pascek or Lucinde or who-the-hell-ever. MG: Archon Bell, I am not unaware of this and other services you have rendered the Camarilla, but I will not be addressed in that tone. [pause] Now, in your experience, the shot you fred at Prince Vitel — that would have incapacitated many Kindred? TB: I gave him a burst, four shots, of dragons breath — that’s white phosphorus incendiary rounds — square in the face. Many…hell, most Kindred that’s gonna take their head clean off. At the very least he should have been incapacitated for a long [expletive deleted] time. MG: But he was not. TB: No. Not for long. MG: What other force did you bring to bear against him? TB: Besides me, we had thirteen ghouls plus Pieterzoon with sub-machineguns, and four more of my people, Kindred, three with side arms, the other with a sword. MG: I see. And your losses? TB: Eleven ghouls dead, one Kindred destroyed, another completely fucked up, and the rest of us banged around pretty good. MG: From just Vitel and his retainer? TB: No. That’s just from Vitel. Lydia blew the ghoul’s [expletive deleted] head off right after I shot the prince the frst time. MG: [pause] I see. [pause] Was that the type of encounter you were expecting, Archon Bell? TB: [derisive laughter] No. Not exactly. Read the rest of the inquiry into Theo Bell’s encounter with the creature calling itself Prince Marcus Vitel in The Beast Within Revised, available now in ebook and print formats from DriveThruFiction. View the full article
  14. Siwan was looking over the medallion that Sigurn had found when Zai made her observations about the other room. She passed the medallion back to Sigurn, 'We can look at it closer when we have settled at camp, best put it away for now." She moved over to the stairs by Zai and crouched down beside her laying a hand on her shoulder to both show her approval and to keep her from moving down the stairs before thy were sure it was safe. She had lain her torch aside and was trying to pierce the darkness with very little light. She could see nothing. "Kora, do you hear or scent anything living down there?"
  15. Sara flew through the chill air of Halloween night, her arms around Sean's trim waist, tight against the undersides of her girlfriend's fulsome breasts. Flying was a thrill, a need, that cigs or weed just couldn't fulfill for her anymore. With her girlfriend, her lover, in her arms, it felt better than anything, better than sex. Well... maybe not sex, Sara amended with a wistful smile. While Sean had claimed to be a virgin the first time they had lain together, and the awe and wonder on her face had proven the truth of her claims, the living fantasy woman had shown herself to be as masterful in bed as she was in seemingly nearly everything else. And their mental link let them share the intimacy and pleasure on a whole other level, without any awkward teenaged fumbling. So, if flying wasn't better than sex, it was the next thing to it. Sean could see the quantum energy emanating from Sara and enfolding them, preventing them from being ripped apart by air friction. The wind against her sensitive flesh felt like they were in a convertible driving down the interstate, instead of hanging off the wings of a jet fighter. It took her no more than a glance at the passing scenery and an instant's thought to ascertain Sara's velocity. 8347.66 km/h. Sara was getting faster, much faster. Sean grinned into the wind, holding her crimson cloak close. She could feel Sara's delight and it was good for her part too. It meant she wouldn't have to endure the thin, cold air in the upper reaches of the stratosphere as long if they took an extended trip. She wasn't as inured to the lack of atmosphere and extremes of temperature as Sara was. Sean already began considering other destinations to visit as she watched the mountains below streak by. She had plotted the course to their destination to avoid as many eyes as possible, and was using her own enhanced senses to make any corrections to their route. But under the growing gloom of dusk and their sheer speed, the super powered women were nearly invisible. And while helping Sara to learn how to divorce unintentional use of her powers from her emotions, Sean had come up with a unique use for Sara's mastery over elemental air to negate the propagating sonic booms of her hypersonic speed. It let them fly lower - where it was easier for Sean to endure their flight - without causing incidental damage and made their passage less obtrusive, though it was power intensive It was mere minutes before the lights of the city where Sean had suggested they spend Halloween came into view. Las Vegas. Sean always wanted to visit Las Vegas, just to say she had and for curiosity's sake, and now she was. And Halloween seemed like a perfect time for it, wityh everything that was Vegas amped up to eleven. Sean hadn't really been to a big city before and Vegas was a city unlike any other. It had been trying to come across as a more family-friendly destination the last few years, but on Halloween Night, the real Las Vegas, the old Vegas, was shiny on display. It felt more like an amusement park, an amusement park for adults, than a city. It was almost laughably easy for the two of them to slip into the pressing crowds on The Strip. Sean stood there, breathing deep, taking it all in, her senses assaulted by an overabundance of sensation and stimuli. Even with her prior experience and mental exercises so she wouldn't be overwhelmed by her heightened acuity, Sean was finding it taking hard not to be over-saturated with stimuli She could smell exhaust, cigarette smoke, cigars, and pot - and other substances of dubious - liberally in the air. Sweat and perfume, cologne and aftershave, and yes, more than once, the clinging musk of sex. Electricity hummed in elaborate neon signs in dozens of colours. She eyes glided along the contours of the towering casino-hotels lining the strip, windows reflecting the glaring lights, resolving their exact dimensions, instinctively calculating volume and mass. And the people! They oscillated and surged about her, in a panoply of ethnicities and costumes, like subatomic particles inside the atom that was Las Vegas. It was almost blinding and it was beautiful and exciting. A single night would hardly scratch the surface of what Las Vegas had to offer, but it would be a start. Sean laughed in delight. Even in the chaotic melange on the strip Sean stood out and people turned to look at the source of the mellifluous sound. "Let's see what the night brings, baby," Sean purred. Sara looked up at her glorious girlfriend, nipples stiffening with arousal and desire. Sean shone. It was easy to call Sean the sexiest and more attractive woman in the world when they were in Shelly. But in Las Vegas, where every other person made their living off their sex appeal and looks, it became abundantly clear that Sean was a woman on another level, a burning sun among candles. "Let's!" Sara agreed, twining her fingers with Sean's as they began walking down The Strip, a space opening around them despite the press. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ Sean had heard that a pretty woman could visit Las Vegas without having to spend a dime other than for a plane ticket. That night, she proved it was possible, and she didn't even have to buy a plane ticket when she had a girlfriend who could fly. A wink, a smile, a gesture, some witty banter, and men - and not a few women - fell over themselves to offer her favors or gifts. Sara had noticed the subtle change in Sean after they had first started sleeping together. Sean was aware of her looks and presence of course, how could she not when she was aware of so much, and had taken efforts to downplay the innate sexuality, sensuality, that came very naturally to her now. Since then, she had started to accept it as a part of herself and was not quite as reticent about revealing, and even reveling, and that side of herself. That night in Vegas, Sean embraced it. Sara might have been disturbed by the display, maybe even jealous, if Sean hadn't made it clear that she was with Sara. Sean never let Sara feel like she was trailing in her wake, but rather that she was at her side, an equal partner. It didn't matter. Whether it was just trying to impress the impossibly beautiful woman and her girlfriend, behaving under the delusion the woman dressed up as Wonder Woman's better looking sister just needed to find the 'right man' or bending under the weight of Sean's charm and charisma, Sean and Sara found themselves not needing to pay for a thing, at least not during this raucous and decadent bacchanalia in Vegas. They swanned into the hottest clubs like celebrities, places like nothing in Shelly and Great Falls, without having to wait in line or pay a cover charge, and they actually had to turn down drinks they were offered so many. Both of them had superb fake Ids, but they were never asked to show them. One guy did end up with a broken rib from a precisely pressed thumb when he offered Sean a drugged drink, which she had noticed after taking her first sip. She might have done worse, but didn't want one asshole ruining her whole Halloween with Sara. She satisfied herself with destroying the rest of his roofies, then giving his balls a hard enough squeeze he feared she'd rip them off, and would be able to get it up for at least a week. Wonder Woman could be a stone-cold bitch. They even got into attractions that were sold out, either offered tickets or waved through under an enticing smile or imploring glance from Sean. While Sean admired the craftsmanship that went into making the haunted houses at Circus Circus, there was a vague disappointment as well, since her senses wouldn't let her experience any jump-scares. They had an excellent dinner at a renowned chef's exclusive restaurant, sharing a truly amazing steak and duck fat fries, and went to a few other nightclubs and attractions. Sean even won a costume contest, winning five thousand dollars. They even gambled a bit, though Sean avoided the slot machines, not wanting to spend the time to analyze the algorithms operating them to find a winning machine. Cards were more fun, and she even managed to resist looking through the cards to the ink on their far sides. Though she had no compunctions about counting cards or reading the other players' tells or feigning her own. One game of poker somehow ended up all being played by comic book characters. She was there as Wonder Woman, but there was also a Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Captain America, Batman, Superman, Deathstroke, and others. Spider-Man and Batman may or may not have actually been Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck. But the guy dressed up as Deathstroke was the one who turned the game from something fun and easy going into something serious. Sara had recognized him, though Sean hadn't. He was the lead in a metal band and he'd been hitting on Sean the entire game, though Sean had been deflecting his interests graciously. Until he had started badmouthing Sara, spewing snide homophobic slurs, claiming she wasn't worthy of a goddess like Sean, that a warrior goddess was a better fit for a Rock God like him. Sean put a calming hand on Sara's arm, less she do something they would all regret, though Sara could feel Sean's own fury. Sean subtly urged him on in his betting, teasing that she'd relent, losing a hand or there to keep him interested and then destroyed him at the Poker table. By the end, she had his entire pot, his watch, his room key to an expensive penthouse suite at the MGM Grand, and even his rented limo. She blew him a kiss as she strode off with her winnings with an extra swing to her hips, her hand on Sara's ass, but her eyes threatened dire consequences if he tried anything else. The most fun Sean and Sara had that night was attending the Fetish and Fantasy Halloween Ball and Lifestyles Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel. Sexual, sensual, and salacious, it was something Sean wouldn't have ever considered going to before. But having a girlfriend now, being a woman herself and sexually active, and with an intense curiosity and far more confidence and self-possession, when the opportunity offered itself, she took it. It was an eye opener for them both, a learning experience, and Sean unabashedly enjoyed herself, even if she had to suppress the occasional blush. And though she - and Sara - were propositioned with all sorts of offers while there, for the most part, the attendees were far more gracious when they declined. Sean couldn't help herself - well she could have, but decided not to - and picked up a few racy and risqué items from the expo, fun for herself and her girlfriend, if she was so inclined. ~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~ Sara lay in bed with Sean in the high-scale, expensive hotel room, listening to Sean's soft, sleeping breath, feeling the warmth of her body and the beating of her heart as she caressed her full curves and silky skin. Sean had dropped the Wonder Woman look, going back to her shorter, multi-coloured hair and sleeker tone, but she was every bit as beautiful and enticing. Sunlight began filtering into the room, glinting of the infinity pool on the terrace and the marble of the raised tub, causing Sean to stir, if not wake. While Sara didn't need to sleep anymore, Sean still did, if only an hour or two a night, though she was capable of staying awake for days on end, if necessary. Sara was almost sad they had to leave today. While they would probably skip school today, they couldn't just drop their obligations in Project Stepping Stone on a whim. But she had every intention of coming back, and visiting other places in the world. It was something they both felt intensely. They were willing to risk themselves to save the world, but they would see more of the world they were saving than just their small corner of it. Sean had rolled over and was smiling lazily at her, her turquoise eyes bright and clear and satiated. Their exertions last night in bed would have killed an unenhanced man through sheer exertion or lack of athletic flexibility. "Happy Halloween, baby."
  16. Sigurn held up a hand towards Siwan, stopping her as she collected herself. She took a breath, then straightened her shoulders. "Skirra was struck by some manner of eldritch power, I believe," the Albadian woman informed the band. "She has been sent back to the spirit world until I can evoke the ritual to summon her back to this plane once more." Sigurn showed Siwan the medallion. "It is a symbol of the Empire of the Wheel, each spoke representing one of the major schools of magic. Though I cannot be certain, I believe it may hold some manner of dweomer." By the stairs, the slight girl they had taken in hand stretched out on the floor, trying to get a view into the floor below without crossing the threshold into it, less she trigger an arcane trap, if that was what had assailed Sigurn's familiar. Both she and Siwan had said the Perforated Plains had once belonged to an empire of sorcerers. Presumably there were magical traps all over the place. The domiciles of the wealthy in Shelzar were often protected with magical - as well as mundane - means. Her uncanny eyes not impeded by darkness, Zai looked for what she could, despite the poor angle. From what she could see, the floor below seemed to be largely open, though there was something in the center of the room. "I can see, I don't know, a weird pedestal or table or some such in the center of the room," she said in her faint, accented voice. "There looks to be a smooth round ball embedded into it - it might be able to fit in a hand. It looks to be made of shiny stone, maybe crystal or glass, but I can't tell from here in this light. There's scratchings on the surface of the table or pedestal or whatever it is, maybe its writing, but I can't read it." She glanced back over her shoulder at the other older, more experienced women. "Do you want me to sneak down there and take a look. I'm sneakier than that spooky spider."
  17. Now available in PDF and print on demand from DriveThruRPG: Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes! Sure, you can do what you want, feed from the locals, and go back to hiding in your lair when you’re done. You may think you’re safe there, it sure feels safe. But, you aren’t the only thing connected to the Primordial Dream, and no lair is safe from what lurks beyond. Don’t fool yourself. — Naomi Walker, Ugalla A Night Horrors Sourcebook for Beast: The Primordial This book includes: An in-depth look at how Heroes hunt and what makes a Hero, with eleven new Heroes to drop into any chronicle. A brief look at why Beasts may antagonize one another, with seven new Beasts to drop into any chronicle. Rules for Insatiables, ancient creatures born of the Primordial Dream intent on hunting down Beasts to fill a hunger without end, featuring six examples ready to use in any chronicle. View the full article
  18. magic is making me stumble

  19. Mega dungeons. Some people probably get excited at those two words. A call to arms to delve deep and plunder long forgotten treasure. Not me. I have never had much in the way of experience with mega dungeons. I played a little bit of Undermountain in high school back in AD&D 2nd Ed, a game I just didn't enjoy much, but beyond that I've never really done the deep dark dungeon crawl on the scale worthy of the appellation "mega dungeon." I think what I disliked about the Undermountain experience was that it felt forced. My issues with 2nd Edition aside I don't know if the GM for that game wasn't very good, or just felt pigeonholed into running the dungeon as designed. The whole thing felt stiff, wooden, a little bland. There was no life in the GMs descriptions of things, and I personally think that this comes down to ownership. He hadn't created the dungeon and so he didn't feel that he owned it. That showed, at least for me as player, in his depiction of the place and its occupants and hazards. Which doesn't mean I'm not willing to try it myself. I recently picked up Castle Whiterock. It's perhaps not as well known by name as Undermoutain, but it got my interest as a GM because it has a deep backstory and it's many levels present space for both a long term campaign but also for shorter contained story arcs. Of course, I'm also going to tinker with it and convert it into a post apocalyptic ruin of the ancients. I figure that'll give me the leeway I need to make it my own. I guess if it comes down to one thing I have to offer this month it's that you need to own your mega dungeon. Whether or not you designed it, or merely co-opted it, you as GM need to be able to bring it to life, and part of that is feeling a sense of ownership. Being willing to make changes great or small will help that, and being willing to completely skip a room or level, or cavern because you understand that it doesn't fit into your narrative; all of these things are important in giving your players a good game. And if you can't give them a good game what's the value in a mega dungeon? What the heck is the RPG Blog Carnival? Check out Johnn Four's header page for the circus here. View the full article
  20. 24 hours remain on the Prince’s Gambit Kickstarter for a Vampire: The Masquerade card game! Prince’s Gambit is a casual card game where each player is a vampire called to the court of the vampiric Prince of the city. Players must cooperate to gain the favor of the Prince while deducing who among them are secretly the traitorous Sabbat infiltrators. Designed by long-time Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop RPG developer Justin Achilli, Prince’s Gambit is a fast-paced social deduction game set within the world of Vampire, but which requires no special knowledge to play. Neophytes and experienced fans of Vampire both can jump right in. Prince’s Gambit is our first card game: hopefully, the first of many. As of this writing, we’re at 563% of our goal, with nearly 1350 backers, and we’ve passed seven stretch goals! View the full article
  21. Sorry guys. Still sick and other stuff hitting at the same too, so will be slow on posting to any of my games. I will try to keep an eye on AWS and SL so at least I am not holding up everybody else.
  22. thanks for the input guys
  23. Autarkis Grudge from Prince’s Gambit by Michael Gaydos Yes, we’re getting all crazy here at the end (or at least the end on Thursday) of the Prince’s Gambit casual card game Kickstarter, and we’re thrilled with how well it has gone so far! As I mentioned at the start, this is a very different kind of KS if only because it is a card game, and we’ve never done one of them on KS before! So seeing how this KS compares and contrasts to our Deluxe KSs has been fascinating and we haven’t yet seen the end. The price point being so much lower ($19 plus shipping for the deck), shipping being estimated until we add it after the KS in BackerKit, it not being like VtES or other familiar cards games from the original WW days; all of these and more have provided interesting responses and data that we know we’ll be able to use in the future. The Kickstarter is over on Thursday- so pop in if you can – it’s a really fun game and you can even watch Eddy and Justin and friends play through it at this link: Beckett’s Jyhad Diary illustration by Sam Araya We’ve been asked about this, so I was thinking it would be helpful to let you folks in on how Onyx Path has evolved these past five years, and particularly in terms of how we’ve improved our internal processes. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but maybe not with quite this emphasis on what happens behind the scenes. For example, before our Office Manager, LisaT, was hired, I was the person getting in the freelance creator pay sheets as submitted by the art director and all our developers. Then it would take me a solid day to go through the sheets, find errors or other questions that needed answering, and get replies and write out all the checks. As you might imagine, trying to keep those two dozen+ payments straight and accurate every couple of weeks took up a lot of my bandwidth, but I stayed on top of it as best I could and made sure that even if I rolled late I always got the checks out. Now, we have LisaT, who was hired specifically to make sure we didn’t let any freelancer linger unpaid as we grew and had more and more creators contracted, and the payments are happening much more smoothly even as their number every couple of weeks has greatly grown. Similarly, Rollickin’ Rose Bailey was brought on to help our developers manage and complete their projects as we revitalized the Chronicles of Darkness lines with 2nd Editions and reactivated the WoD lines with the 20th Anniversary Editions. That’s a lot of lines just there, nevermind Exalted, Scion, Scarred Lands, Trinity Continuum, and Pugmire and Cavaliers of Mars. We could only grow as we needed to because Rose stepped up, and even with her there helping on the development, writing, and editing side, I realized we needed another Onyx Path staff member in there connecting that work with finished books and projects getting into the right sales venues, and we were lucky to get Mighty Matt McElroy to come onboard late last year. V20 Dark Ages Companion art by Felipe Gaona One of the very first things we three did together was to reconfigure our freelance writer pay rates by removing the 5 cents a word pay rate cap that had been in place for over a decade as a legacy of the original WW days. We could do that because we had grown as we needed to during the first five years, even if it was a clunky and inelegant growth process. For developers, we scrapped the old model, also a holdover from old WW, of paying by the word, and instituted a single amount by project. Bonus amounts are now added for such things as if it’s a core book or we know we’ll need the developers to contribute to the Kickstarter. For any of our freelancers, we also have created several different payment options, in terms of method of pay and the timing of when folks are paid. We could make these changes, now that we can afford them, because of the oversight LisaT, Rollickin’ Rose and Mighty Matt can give to making sure these process changes actually work as intended. Which is, primarily, as an increase in the financial reward in working on these amazing projects. Make no mistake, I’m not saying these changes will let our freelancers quit their day jobs, as we are still trying to make things work in the tabletop RPG biz mostly. But we have slowly built up the business so we’re at the point that we can replace legacy processes that I brought into Onyx Path from old WW (because I knew how all the pieces worked, and could be managed by a one or two man company). BUT: even with all the above in place, if you have been unpaid for work you have completed for us under contract, I absolutely want you to know you can contact me directly at We have a great team, but mistakes happen, so I’m here to help. M20 Book of Secrets art by Ken Meyer, Jr. Another thing our great team here was able to do is to put together a plan to get more Exalted 3rd material flowing again! We’ve got the first batches of releases to be released as monthly mini-releases in progress, as noted in the Project Progress list below, and a couple of tasty excerpts from upcoming books. This week, our EX3 devs, Robert Vance and Eric Minton, have provided an excerpt from Arms of the Chosen. I give you: Gnomon, the Starmetal Wrackstaff Artifact: Enjoy! BLURBS! KICKSTARTER! The Prince’s Gambit casual vampire card game Kickstarter is entering it’s final nights! We’re almost at the Stretch Goal for adding new art and then come the Assamites, and we’re hoping the 48 hour push gets us even to more cool rewards! So please check it out: . Designed by long-time Vampire: the Masquerade tabletop RPG developer Justin Achilli, Prince’s Gambit is a fast-paced social deduction game set within the world of Vampire, but which requires no special knowledge to play. Players must cooperate to gain the favor of the Prince while deducing who among them are secretly the traitorous Sabbat infiltrators. Next, the Monarchies of Mau KS is scheduled to come after Gambit. ON SALE! Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Here’s the link to the press release we put out about how Onyx Path is now selling through Indie Press Revolution: You can now order wave 2 of our Deluxe and Prestige print overrun books, including Deluxe Mage 20th Anniversary, and Deluxe V20 Dark Ages! Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes for Beast: the Primordial, PoD and PDF versions going on sale Wednesday! This book includes: An in-depth look at how Heroes hunt and what makes a Hero, with eleven new Heroes to drop into any chronicle. A brief look at why Beasts may antagonize one another, with seven new Beasts to drop into any chronicle. Rules for Insatiables, ancient creatures born of the Primordial Dream intent on hunting down Beasts to fill a hunger without end, featuring six examples ready to use in any chronicle. From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: Beneath the Skin (Demon and Skinchangers 1486-1502 Aztec Empire). Ahuitzotl sits on the throne at the height of the Aztec Empire, overseeing his sorcerer-priests’ sacrifices and the endless flower wars his jaguar and eagle warriors carry out in his name to keep the altars well-supplied with victims. The gears of the Aztec Empire turn smoothly and inexorably, but not everything is what it pretends to be. Skinchangers take the shapes of animals to run the wilds or bring down human prey, the Unchained cobble together identities from stolen lives, and stranger things still lurk in the deserts and jungles beyond the walls of Tenochtitlan. On sale in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG! From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: Into the Cold (Demon: the Descent 1961 Berlin). East Germany erects a wall against its Western counterpart, turning West Berlin into an island within its own country. As the Cold War heats up, demons find themselves the targets of increasing human scrutiny, and begin to realize that the God-Machine’s plans didn’t end with the War. On sale now in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG! The splendor and horror of Rio is unwrapped! Cursed Necropolis: Rio for Mummy: the Curse is on sale in PDF and PoD versions: Beneath the splendor of Rio de Janeiro seethes a hotbed of occult activity. Over a score of mummies keep their tombs in Rio, their presence seeping into the soil and stones and souls of the city. Over all this reigns the infamous Teshra-Gemet, the pretender Pharaoh. The city of Rio births marvels both bright and dark… and you never know which kind you have until it’s too late. Cursed Necropolis: Rio contains: The secrets and schemes of Rio’s Arisen. New Utterances, from the perception usurping Horse and Rider to the cleansing fire of Baal’s Due. “The Serpent’s Tooth,” an all-new adventure to introduce players to the conflicts and power plays of Rio de Janeiro. Beasts are added to Hunter: the Vigil with Hunter: Tooth and Nail, coming atcha in PDF and physical book Pod versions on! Tooth and Nail is a bonus chapter/companion book to the previous released Hunter: Mortal Remains that explores antagonists inspired by the Beast: the Primordial RPG. Hunter: Tooth and Nail includes: Fiction and story hooks to bring these beasts of legend to your Hunter: The Vigil chronicle. New bestial Dread Powers. New Compacts and Conspiracies which hunt the monsters, but also sometimes hunt the zealous heroes that hunt as well. The Secrets of the Covenants for Vampire: the Requiem 2nd REVEALED this Wednesday on DTRPG! Physical copy PoD version coming to DTRPG: Vampires gather under many banners. But five have endured the tumult of Western history better than any other. The Carthian Movement. The Circle of the Crone. The Invictus. The Lancea et Sanctum. The Ordo Dracul. Each has its fierce devotees, its jealous rivals, and its relentless enemies. Now,for the first time, the covenants speak for themselves. This book includes: A variety of stories from each of the covenants, all told in their own words. Never-before revealed secrets, like the fate of the Prince of New Orleans. New blood sorcery, oaths, and other hidden powers of the covenants. From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: Fallen Blossoms (Hunter 1640-1660 Japan). Japan is moving into the Edo Period. New laws and new ways of thinking wash over the land, and with a new order come new threats to humanity. Take a look at the Vigil in a time where samurai transition from warlords to bureaucrats, Japan massively and lethally rejects outside influence, and when Edo rapidly grows into a world power. Continuing our individual Dark Eras chapters, we offer you Dark Eras: Fallen Blossoms on in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG! From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: Doubting Souls (Hunter 1690-1695 Salem). Immigrants and tribes struggled to co-exist on the Eastern Seaboard in the ever-expanding Colonies. Violent clashes, supernatural beliefs, and demonic influences spelled disaster for Salem Village and its surrounding towns, while others fought werewolves and vampires on the frontier. With so much at risk, only god-fearing men and women were deemed innocent — and those were few indeed. Available in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG: From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: The Bowery Dogs (Werewolf 1969-1979 NYC). New York City in the 1970s. Crime. Drugs. Gang violence. Vast economic disparity. And werewolves. It’s a lean, ugly time to be alive, and the lone wolf doesn’t stand a chance out there. In the end, all you really have is family. Available in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG: The Locker is open; the Chronicles of Darkness: Hurt Locker, that is! PDF and physical copy PoDs are now available on DTRPG! Hurt Locker features: Treatment of violence in the Chronicles of Darkness. Lasting trauma, scene framing, and other tools for making your stories hurt. Many new player options, including Merits, supernatural knacks, and even new character types like psychic vampires and sleeper cell soldiers. Expanded equipment and equipment rules. Hurt Locker requires the Chronicles of Darkness Rulebook or any other standalone Chronicles of Darkness rulebook such as Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Forsaken, or Beast: The Primordial to use. From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: Ruins of Empire (Mummy 1893-1924). Perhaps the quintessential era of the mummy in the minds of Westerners, this period saw the decline of the two greatest empires of the age: British and Ottoman. Walk with the Arisen as they bear witness to the death of the Victorian age, to pivotal mortal discoveries in Egypt, and to the horrors of the Great War. Available in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG. From the massive Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras main book, we have pulled this single chapter, Dark Eras: The Sundered World (Werewolf and Mage 5500-5000 BCE). At the birth of civilization, in the shadow of the Fall, the Awakened stand as champions and protectors of the agricultural villages spread across the Balkans. In a world without a Gauntlet, where Shadow and flesh mingle, the steady taming of the world by humanity conflicts with the half-spirit children of Father Wolf. Available in PDF and physical copy PoD versions on DTRPG. CONVENTIONS! Discussing GenCon plans. August 17th – 20th, Indianapolis. Every chance the booth will actually be 20? x 30? this year that we’ll be sharing with friends. We’re looking at new displays this year, like a back drop and magazine racks for the brochure(s). In November, we’ll be at Game Hole Con in Madison, WI. More news as we have it, and here’s their website: And now, the new project status updates! DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM ROLLICKING ROSE (projects in bold have changed status since last week): First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep) Exalted 3rd Novel by Matt Forbeck (Exalted 3rd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Aeon Rulebook (The Trinity Continuum) M20 Gods and Monsters (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) M20 Book of the Fallen (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Ex Novel 2 (Aaron Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) C20 Novel (Jackie Cassada) (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition) Pugmire Fiction Anthology (Pugmire) Monarchies of Mau Early Access (Pugmire) Hunter: the Vigil 2e core (Hunter: the Vigil 2nd Edition) DtD Night Horrors: Enemy Action (Demon: the Descent) The Realm (Exalted 3rd Edition) Dragon-Blooded (Exalted 3rd Edition) Arms of the Chosen (Exalted 3rd Edition) We were going to list Adversaries of the Righteous (EX3 Antagonists) and Hundred Devils Night Parade (EX3 Bestiary) here but since we’re doing monthly small releases with them, we figured that would just get annoying and confusing. So this week, they go here, but after that they just exist. Redlines Kithbook Boggans (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition) Second Draft V20 Dark Ages Jumpstart (Vampire: the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition) GtS Geist 2e core (Geist: the Sin-Eaters Second Edition) Pugmire Pan’s Guide for New Pioneers (Pugmire) Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook (The Trinity Continuum) Scion: Origins (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion: Hero (Scion 2nd Edition) WoD Ghost Hunters (World of Darkness) Development W20 Changing Ways (Werewolf: the Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition) Signs of Sorcery (Mage: the Awakening Second Edition) SL Ring of Spiragos (Pathfinder – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition) Ring of Spiragos (5e – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition) SL Dagger of Spiragos (Pathfinder – Scarred Lands 2nd Edition) Dagger of Spiragos (5e– Scarred Lands 2nd Edition) Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition, featuring the Huntsmen Chronicle (Changeling: the Lost 2nd Edition) Book of Freeholds (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition) BtP Beast Player’s Guide (Beast: the Primordial) M20 Cookbook (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) CtD C20 Jumpstart (Changeling: the Dreaming 20th Anniversary Edition) VtR Half-Damned (Vampire: the Requiem 2nd Edition) Editing: Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition BtP Building a Legend (Beast: the Primordial) Post-Editing Development: Indexing: ART DIRECTION FROM MIRTHFUL MIKE: In Art Direction Beckett’s Jyhad Diary – Waiting on the remainder of the art. W20 Pentex Employee Indoctrination Handbook – AD’d Dagger of Spiragos VTR: Thousand Years of Night – Contracted Cavaliers of Mars – AD’d(ish) Monarchies of Mau Early Access – Sketches incoming. Got McEvoy’s finished piece in. BtP Building a Legend – AD’d Wraith 20 – AD’d W20 Changing Ways Ex3 Monthly Stuff – AD’d Marketing Stuff In Layout Prince’s Gambit M20 Book of Secrets – Layout in progress. Pugmire Screen – Doing up the front. Pugmire Cards – Done, waiting for format from printer. Pugmire – Prepping files for press. M20 Art Book – Still in the queue… Proofing C20 – 2nd proof. V20 Dark Ages Companion – Sending to WW for approval. CtL Huntsmen Chronicle Anthology – At WW for approval. M20 Book of Secrets At Press Ex 3 Screen – Shipping almost completed. Ex 3 core book – Shipping almost completed along with map and bookmarks. W20 Shattered Dreams – Shipping almost completed. Shattered Dreams Screen – Shipping almost completed. Beckett Screen – Shipped to shipper. Beast Conquering Heroes – PDF and PoD going on sale this week on DTRPG. Dark Eras: To the Strongest – PoD proof on the way. Dark Eras: Beneath the Skin – PDF and physical book PoD on sale! Dark Eras: Into the Cold – PDF and physical book PoD on sale! V20 Lore of the Bloodlines – PoD proof ordered. Dark Eras Companion – Files uploaded and processing. W20 Song of Unmaking – Inputting errata. EX3 Tomb of Dreams Jumpstart – PDF out to backers. C20 Anthology – Out to backers, gathering errata. TODAY’S REASON TO CELEBRATE: US Tax day! Celebrate through your tears if you are from the US! Celebrate not paying our taxes if you are not! View the full article
  24. It states in the rules that the two stack with the other.
  25. I've seen it played that way (that it does) ever since I came to this site so I see no issue with it continuing to do so
  26. need some help on this one please vote and make comments if you wish
  27. In my games, when a Doyen died, it petrified into a solid white substance comprised mostly of glucose. They were ground up into a powder and then processed into delicious sticks that children would dip into various flavored packets of powder. We then visited the moral implications of society's actions and whether or not those actions were justified based on facts like: if they didn't want to be eaten then why did the space gods make them delicious. We came to the conclusion that Earth wasn't to blame, it was indeed the Doyen's fault for being yummy. Y'know, just a thought.
  28. Image Source: "Venus doesn't seem so bad," I said, pressing my face against the window. Clouds roiled below, mostly sulfur dioxide and other toxic chemicals. Here though, as we approached Aphrodite station, the hellish planet seemed for more pleasant. The pilot spared a moment to snort derisively between communications with station control. I ignore him. The station was a dichotomy of industrial and elegant. Atop, it was a beautiful golden geodesic dome. Below, it was entirely functional: airlocks, thrusters, cargo pods, and the like. The shuttle was gliding toward one of those airlocks now, cutting through the atmosphere under computer control. I'd never ridden in an aerodynamic lighter than air shuttle before, and it felt more like being in space than being into atmosphere. While the shuttle docked I reviewed what I knew of Aphrodite station. It was one of six, at the moment, stations that provided research and atmosphere cycling. The Venusian atmosphere was just lousy with carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide among other unpleasant but useful chemicals. The stations cracked the carbon dioxide and sold the components; elemental oxygen was a commodity for anybody who wanted to breathe, and carbon in any number of forms proved nearly as valuable as a construction material. So here I was coming to the second most hellish place in the system (trust me, Io is worse by far) tracking down information about shipments of carbon nanotubes. To put it another way I was looking for a needle in a factory full of needles... and hay. I wondered if I was chasing nothing, or if the information I had was accurate. As useful as carbon nanotubes were, I couldn't imagine why anybody would hide shipments of them, let alone in the quantity that appeared to be being masked, but then, that's why I was here. View the full article
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